First Page

Chapter 1

Only unhappy people meditate.  I know this, but knowing this is not enough to stop me from sitting cross-legged on the pitted, salt-stained floor of the Shambhala Centre.

“Exhale and with each exhale release all intruding thoughts.  Note them and let them go.  Just concentrate on your breath.”

The instructor also probably knows this.  Why else would he tell us to forget?  Mad-eyed, his belly rests comfortably on his splayed legs, while he instructs us – his four loser students.  We must be an exceptionally bad group.  There’s normally no talking once we’ve begun.  Only the second class and already showing signs of failure.  Not that you can fail meditation.  It’s all about the practice.  That you showed up at all is where the accomplishment lies.  Or is that yoga?  Either way, all that being in the moment stuff is glommed onto by people who don’t have a future, not one they look forward to at any rate.

I turned thirty today.  Thirty is the new forty, only with fewer options – not that that’s what drove me to the desperate act of meditation.  I realize thirty sounds young but really only to those who are thirty-four or more.  To the rest, thirty is an age where you feel compelled to be serious, to get on with things.  An age where you start to panic at how little you’ve actually accomplished, and start to fear how little you’re likely to achieve before forty.  Because, of course, nothing is achieved after forty.  Stuff done in your forties that you really should have done in your thirties doesn’t look like achievement.  It looks like desperation.